Despite efforts to keep Internet betting at bay and out of the United States, online bookmakers have had another successful Super Bowl. And once again, they've outshined their land-based competitors in Nevada.
". . . Not only have we passed up the land-based guys, but we have completely lapped them."
- David Carruthers
Betting on America's most popular sporting event reached nearly $375 million online, according to gaming analyst Sebastian Sinclair, who covers the industry for Christian Capital Advisers.
That's more than five times the $71 million wagered in Nevada in 2003, and nearly five times Nevada's record turnover of $77 million reached in 1998. The Nevada Gaming Control Board is expected to release the figures for this year's game by week's end.
Costa Rica-based BetOnSports (BoS), a perennial leader in online Super Bowl betting, saw record increases in the number of bets placed on the site as well as individual handle.
David Carruthers, CEO of BoS, said the site totaled $23 million on 459,000 wagers for this year's game (around 206,000 more than last year).
In the nine hours preceding the Super Bowl, he said, the site averaged 625 bets a minute, with action about even on both sides.
BoS offered a wide selection of proposition bets, and Carruthers said punters responded well to the offerings, with nearly a 30 percent increase in prop bets form last year's championship game.
Sportingbet, a British-based operation that targets U.S. bettors, broke Super Bowl records as well.
The group's executive chairman, Mark Blandford, said volume was up 37 percent and that a three-point victory for New England was a good result for the book.
"But it wasn't a huge winner for us," Blandford said. "Plenty took the over, maybe just because we pitched it so low, and the sides action was mixed. We made most of our money on the props."
Another leading online bookmaker, BoDog.com, said action on this year's Super Bowl was three times that of last year, also a record. The site additionally set records for daily new-account sign-ups at over 800 on Super Bowl Sunday.
Trade Exchange Network, which operates the TradebetX.com and TradeSports.com betting exchanges, saw its punters stake more than $20.6 million on the game.
John Delaney, CEO of TradebetX and TradeSports, said it was interesting to see the odds fluctuate on the Patriots to win from +150 to -230 after the AFC Championship game.
Punters also took advantage of the sites' in-run betting options; Delaney said almost $1 million was traded during the event
"Imagine how much more exciting the game is to watch when you are trading in and out of positions with every play," he said.
Punters on the exchange even had fun with the unofficial halftime show.
"We offered our members the chance to trade on The Lingerie Bowl, where traders correctly predicted a victory for Team Euphoria," he said.
Meanwhile, the land-based bookmakers also had a successful day in Nevada, but legally placed wagers in the only U.S. state where sports betting is licensed and regulated is just a fraction of that wagered online.
Bob Scucci, sports book director at Stardust, told the Associated Press that betting business was up 15 percent at the casino from Super Bowl Sunday 2003.
"Our property was as busy on this Super Bowl as I've seen on any Super Bowl," Scucci said.
He added that Stardust took more than $1 million in bets, most coming in the 48 hours before kickoff.
John Avello, director of Race & Sports Book operations at Bally's and Paris Las Vegas, said his casinos barely had enough room to accommodate all the bettors.
But even with Vegas having a good day, BoS's Carruthers feels the message is clear about the long-term viability for Internet sports betting.
"This shows that not only have we passed up the land-based guys, but we have completely lapped them," he said.
Carruthers said the biggest winner on BoS was a $55,000 payout, while the biggest loser was a $22,000 bet.
The increased business for individual sites is in line with Sinclair's estimated increase for the overall industry. Last year $300 million was wagered on the Super Bowl online, he said. The 2004 figures mark the fourth year in a row for substantial growth in turnover wagered online for the Super Bowl.
So as a Grand Jury investigation into the advertising practices of the industry wages onward, prohibition legislation is bounced around in Congress and credit card companies continue to impose regulations on the industry, the industry continues to grow.
I-Gaming On Location
The famous BoS bus and promotional team was in Houston for the game spreading the word about the site, and a streaker advertising Golden Palace came onto the field prior to kickoff of the second half.